I was confused why fruitcake was maligned on sitcoms while growing up. I thought I liked fruitcake until I tried some store-bought versions and discovered gumdrops and other adjuncts in what should just be fruit, flour, eggs, and sugar. If you’ve never tried a fruitcake you like, this might be something for you. When serving it to unwary guests, the most common reaction after tasting it is, “This is fruitcake? But it’s good!”
Some people serve it cut into small squares and covered with powdered sugar. According to my family, this is also traditional at weddings.
Without further ado, here is the recipe for my family’s fruitcake, imported from Canada. I can just picture my mother’s immigrant family, strapping the hockey net to the top of the car, hiding this contraband recipe under a crate of maple syrup, and driving from Ontario to California in the 1960s. The secret is out of the bag. Sorry Mom. This is my Aunt Gert Parker’s recipe.
Yield: two cakes (one 9-1/2-in and one 10-in springform pan)
2 lb Raisins
2 lb Currants
1 lb Chopped Mixed Dried Fruit
1 lb Chopped Dates
1/2 lb Dried Cherries
1–2 C Madeira Wine
1/2 lb Sliced or Slivered Almonds
1 lb Butter
1 C Sugar or 1 C Honey
1/2 C Fruit Juice (reduce by half if using honey)
3 1/4 C Flour
1 doz Eggs
1 t Ground Cinnamon
1 t Ground Cloves
1 t Ground Allspice
1 t Ground Nutmeg
1 t Baking Soda (add 1/2 t if using honey)
1. Place all dried fruit in a bowl or other large container with a lid and add Madeira wine. Toss once a day for a week to allow fruit to soak up wine.
2. Set oven to 295ºF (275ºF if using honey). Creme 1 lb butter and 1 C sugar/honey. Add all 12 egg yolks and mix until bright yellow. The whites will be beat until hard; if you’re using a stand mixer, get that started now, otherwise wait until after step three. Add 1/2 fruit juice (1/4 C if using honey). Add 1/2 C flour to the soaked dried fruit and mix before mixing all the ingredients together (your going to need a big bowl; I use our large pressure cooker pot).
3. Mix the 1 t baking soda (+1/2 t if using honey) and 1 t each of cinnamon, cloves, allspice, and nutmeg with the rest of the flour and then add it to the mixture. Add hard-beaten egg whites to the mixture and stir in just enough to distribute.
4. Line two springform pans with parchment paper: cut a circle for the bottom and strips for the sides. Some folks just fold a single piece of paper into the pan, but I find that dough gets stuck in the folds and burns. Put in heated oven for 3–3 1/2 hr (toothpick should come out clean). Remove from oven, let cool for 15 minutes before popping it out of the springform pan and allowing to cool on a rack. Support the cake while moving it from pan to rack.
5. Once fully cool, wrap in cling wrap and/or aluminum foil before storing in a tin (or brown paper for shipping). Can be stored for months. The traditional way to keep it from drying out in the tin is cutting a shot-glass-sized hole out of the middle and installing a shot glass filled with brandy; just don’t shake the tin.
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